For 80’s Babies: ESPN’s NFL Primetime Classic Clips (1987-2002)

For 80’s Babies: ESPN’s NFL Primetime Classic Clips (1987-2002)

M.D. Wright




If you were like me, and ate, slept, breathed, talked, dreamt, played football growing up, you watched football whenever there was a game available, and listened on radio when you weren’t near a TV set. And furthermore, if you were like me, at times, you were rushing to get home from church or some other function in order to catch ESPN’s NFL Primetime, the high-octane, highlight/recap show that followed the 1:00 PM and 4:15 PM games, and immediately preceded the 8:30 PM Sunday Night Football game on ESPN.



However, with ESPN forfeiting the rights to Sunday Night Football to NBC Sports a few years ago, the rights to show NFL highlights in the NFL Primetime format went along with it. Although ESPN acquired Monday Night Football (and screwed it up with their awful broadcast team and otherwise mundane coverage, ruining a 35-year institution that boys and men broke their necks to watch from 1970-2005). However, ESPN does air a compressed version of NFL highlights during its 11:00 PM and midnight editions of SportsCenter, titled The Blitz. It’s the same format with Chris Berman talking 100-MPH, giving players nicknames (to which the players absolutely loved hearing when they watched highlights later) and Tom Jackson offering analysis and call-and-response to Berman’s inside jokes.


One of the most enduring (and hilarious calls) surrounded former Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings WR Cris Carter, who was cut by the Eagles before the 1990 season due to his alcohol and cocaine addictions. Head Coach Buddy Ryan, who attempted to shield Carter from further media controversy, stated that “all he (Carter) does, is catch touchdowns” as the reason why Carter was cut — rather than expose his drug issues, which were only known by local writers and NFL insiders.


Whenever Carter caught touchdown passes in Minnesota during his 11+ years there, Berman would narrate, “Cris Carter… all he does???” and Tom Jackson would immediately reply, “CATCH TOUCHDOWNS!!!” in a mocking manner toward Ryan’s earlier comment, while having fun with it. Along with this, Berman’s nicknames for players, and the 60s and 70s song references, the show was action packed and entertaining, successfully catering to the target audience of the NFL: 18-34 year old men.



The highlights obviously made the show, and as such, being an avid historian and a revisionist who loves to reminisce upon the good  times, while taking something from the past and applying it to the present and future.



What I will do is periodically add links that I come across from time to time (I have connections for ENTIRE GAMES from fans of other teams; such as Rams fans who are in their 40s and 50s and Cowboys fans, for 80s games that many of us never saw). Along with those, I will be posting NFL Primetime links.



Here’s a start:

1995 NFL Week 15 – NFL Priemtime:


Much, much more to come.



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